Category Archives: Free Jazz

LARAAJI-MOON PIANO.

Laraaji-Moon Piano. Label: All Saints Records. Format: LP. When Laraaji recorded two albums  of spiritual keyboard improvisations at the First Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, on December the ’10th’  and ’11th’ 2018 he was fulfilling a lifetime’s ambition. He had always wanted to return the piano which was the first instrument he learned to play growing up …

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TAKEO MORIYAMA-EAST PLANTS.  

Takeo Moriyama-East Plants. In 1983, Japanese jazz drummer Takeo Moriyama was thirty-eight and into his third decade as a musician when he released his 1983 cult classic East Plants. It’s highly prized by collectors of J-Jazz and one of his finest albums. His story began in 1945. Takeo Moriyama was born on the ‘27th’ of January 1945, in Katsunuma, in the …

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CULT CLASSIC: IKARUS-IKARUS.

Cult Classic: Ikarus-Ikarus. In Greek mythology, Icarus, the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, who created the Labyrinth, met a tragic ending. Icarus and Daedalus were desperate to escape from Crete. So Daedalus constructed wings made of feathers and wax. As Icarus prepared to make his escape, Daedalus warned his son of complacency and hubris.  …

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CULT CLASSIC: YASUAKI SHIMIZU-MUSIC FOR COMMERCIALS: MADE TO MEASURE VOLUME 12.

Cult Classic: Yasuaki Shimizu-Music For Commercials: Made To Measure Volume 12. In 1980, musician and producer Marc Hollander founded his own record label Crammed Discs in the Belgian capital Brussels. Later that year, his avant-rock group Aksak Maboul released their groundbreaking sophomore album Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits on Crammed Discs. Little did Marc …

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SPIRITUAL JAZZ 12: IMPULSE!

Spiritual Jazz 12: Impulse! Label: Jazzman Records. Format: 2CD. Little did anyone at Jazzman Records know when they released Spiritual Jazz (Esoteric, Modal and Deep Jazz From The Underground 1968-77) in 2008, that this was the first instalment in what would become their longest-running and most successful compilation series. Over the next twelve years, they’ve …

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CULT CLASSIC: THE NAZGÛL-THE NAZGÛL.

Cult Classic: The Nazgûl-The Nazgûl. Pyramid Records was founded by forty-year old British expat Robin Page, in 1972. By then , he  was one of the leading lights  in the Fluxus arts movement . He had moved from London, England to Cologne, in Germany, in 1969, and the city had been his home ever since. However, Robin Page …

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MOTORPSYCHO-THE ALL IS ONE. 

Motorpsycho-The All Is One. Label: Rune Grammofon. Format: 2CD. Motorpsycho was formed in Trondheim, in October 1989 and released their debut album Lobotomizer in 1991. Since then, they’ve been one of hardest working and prolific bands in Norway. Last year, the Norwegian rockers released two albums and toured Norway and Europe twice. That would’ve been …

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DAWAN MUHAMMAD-DEEP STREAM.

Dawan Muhammad-Deep Stream. Label: High Jazz. Format: LP. By 1979, jazz wasn’t as popular as it was during the fifties and early sixties. That was the golden age for jazz, and saw countless classic albums released on labels like Blue Note, Verve and Impulse! These albums sold in large quantities and were profitable for the …

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BRAINCHILD-HEALING OF THE LUNATIC OWL.

Brainchild-Healing Of The Lunatic Owl. Label: Magic Box. Format: LP with CD. Progressive brass rock pioneers Brainchild were formed in Somerset in the late-sixties, and by the 1970 the septet had signed to A&M. This was perfect timing as the brass rock boom began in 1969 and continued until 1972. By then,  Chicago, Blood, Sweat …

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IDRIS ACKAMOOR AND THE PYRAMIDS- SHAMAN!

Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids-Shaman! Label: Strut. Nowadays, not many groups are still together after forty-seven years. Many groups call time on their career after three or four albums citing “artistic differences” but are keen to reassure their fans that they’re “still friends” and that the band had “run its course.” This has happened to some of …

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CULT CLASSIC: MICHAEL COSMIC-PEACE IN THE WORLD AND PHILL MUSRA GROUP-CREATOR SPACES.

Cult Classic: Michael Cosmic-Peace In The World and Phill Musra Group-Creator Spaces. In the fifties, there was a growing dissatisfaction at the limitations and constraints of bebop, hard bop and modal jazz, which was why a group of pioneering musicians decided that the time had come to alter, extend, or break down jazz conventions. This …

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CULT CLASSIC: THE LIGHTMEN-FREE AS YOU WANNA BE.

Cult Classic: The Lightmen-Free As You Wanna Be. Before founding The Lightmen, drummer, bandleader and political activist Bubbha Thomas had toured the length and breadth of America playing in R&B revues. The rest of his career had been spent working alongside the legends of jazz and playing on sessions for Peacock and Back Beat Records. However, …

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CATAPILLA-CATAPILLA AND CHANGES.

Catapilla-Catapilla and Changes. Label: Trading Places. Format: LP. The story of Catapilla is another case of what might have been. They were formed in West London around Christmas 1970, and signed to Vertigo Records and released two ambitious and innovative albums where they combined progressive rock with experimental fusion. Sadly, neither their 1971 debut album …

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LARAAJI-SUN PIANO.

Laraaji-Sun Piano. Label: All Saints Records. Format: LP. On the album cover to his new album Sun Piano, which was released by All Saints Records, Laraaji describes playing the piano as: “my music therapy.” This is something the seventy-seven year has been doing since 1953, when he was just ten and living in New Jersey.  …

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CULT CLASSIC: DIES IRAE-FIRST.

Cult Classic: Dies Irae-First. For many new bands, their main objective is to release an “album”  and they want to do this as quickly as possible. This will be a sign that they’ve “arrived” and have one foot on the musical ladder. Sadly, for some bands, that’s as far as it goes. The album fails to …

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HEDVIG MOLLESTAD-EKHIDNA.

Hedvig Mollestad-Ekhidna. Label: Rune Grammofon. Format: CD. In May 2018, award-winning Norwegian guitarist, vocalist, bandleader and composer Hedvig Mollestad was thirty-six and one of the leading lights of the vibrant Nordic music scene. Her band the Hedvig Mollestad Trio had already released five albums and had already recorded their sixth album Smells Funny. Despite the …

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CULT CLASSIC: LONNIE LISTON SMITH AND THE COSMIC ECHOES-ASTRAL TRAVELLING.

Cult Classic: Lonnie Liston Smith and The Echoes-Astral Travelling. Sometimes, a record company proves to be the perfect fit for an  artist. That was the case with Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman Productions which was the perfect label for Lonnie Liston Smith and The Echoes’ unique brand of cosmic jazz. Through working with some of the most innovative and creative …

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ANDREW HILL-SMOKE STACK.

Andrew Hill-Smoke Stack. Label: Blue Note Records. Format: Vinyl. By the time Chicago-born pianist Andrew Hill released his sophomore album Black Fire on Blue Note Records in 1964, he was already thirty-two, and was making up for lost time. He had only started to play the piano when he was thirteen but made rapid progress. …

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AKSAK MABOUL-FIGURES.

Aksak Maboul-Figures. Label: Crammed Discs.  Nowadays, there aren’t many bands that are still together and releasing new albums after five decades. The same can be said of record labels founded in the seventies. Sadly, bands and record labels aren’t enjoying the same longevity in the modern music business.  All too often, bands release a couple …

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CULT CLASSIC: LEON THOMAS-BLUES AND THE SOULFUL TRUTH.

Cult Classic: Leon Thomas-Blues and The Soulful Truth. Some labels prove to be the perfect fit for an artist. This was the case when Leon Thomas signed to Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman Productions.  By the late sixties, Leon Thomas had embraced free jazz fully. He turned his back on the blues and his vocal style was totally …

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